Sony's first two DSLRs, the A100 and A700 showed clear signs of their Konica Minolta lineage - sharing a lot of DNA with the Maxxum (Dynax) 5D and 7D respectively. Its latest, the A350, still shows signs of that ancestry but also hints at the influences of a company with rather different intentions.

The recently introduced A200, A300 and A350 represent an aggressive assault on the entry level market. All three models are extremely close in terms of price and features (The A300 is a A200 with Live view or an A350 with a less pixel-dense sensor, depending on how you look at it). And, with the A300, Sony has introduced the first single-retailer "exclusive" DSLR: a product only sold through a single outlet, allowing that retailer to maintain a stronger level of influence over selling price.

These baby Alphas, the 200, 300 and 350, are more similar than any group of cameras in any other manufacturer's lineup, complicating the market but also offering a greater degree of choice than ever. Some existing Sony and Konica Minolta owners have been upset by the perceived reduction in features from the A100 but the new Alphas should perhaps be considered the first real Sony products, reflecting a different interpretation of how people choose entry level cameras, rather than the A100's continuation of the assumptions that underpinned the KM 5D.

Sony may be confident in its application of marketing theory, but do those theories result in cameras that will satisfy photographers as well as sales projections?

What's inside?

14.2 megapixel APS-C CCD
Rather than making use of the 'Exmor' CMOS sensor from the A700, the A350 is instead built around a CCD chip crammed with a staggering 14.2 million photosites.

Bionz Image Processor
The slightly odd Bionz name is again applied to the image processor in the A350, though presumably not the same one that was optimized for the A700's CMOS sensor.

The Super SteadyShot system moves the sensor to compensate for user shake. The appearance of the mechanism suggests it may be the unit from the A700.

Other new / upgraded features of note:

  • Live view with dedicated sensor
  • Larger, articulated LCD
  • 14.2 MP sensor
  • New software bundle with all-new raw converter
  • Creative Styles (expansion of color modes function on A100)
  • ISO 3200
  • Optional high ISO noise reduction
  • RGB histograms
  • Digital Teleconverter function